Food Safety Reminder: Rinsing the Bird Is Bad for Your Health
Jennifer Quinlan, a food safety scientist at Drexel University, and the media production folks at New Mexico State University have produced a series of informative, and weirdly entertaining, videos and print ads that remind us to stop rinsing chicken before cooking.
Contrary to what most of us believe, rinsing before cooking does not remove harmful bacteria or reduce the risk of food borne illness, and in fact may increase the risk by spreading bacteria throughout sink and kitchen. The only safe way to eliminate harmful bacteria is to kill it with fire — by cooking the meat to a minimum safe temperature (165F for poultry).
Not rinsing before cooking is not new food safety advice — it's been the consensus among scientists for the past several years. Quinlan was inspired to launch this public awareness effort after focus groups revealed that as many as 90% of Americans still rinse before cooking. As NPR points out, even the venerable Julia Child had it wrong. Rinsing the bird first is a hard habit to break.
What's true for poultry is also true for pork, beef, lamb, and veal products. Don't rinse before you cook any of those, either. But do remember to always wash your hands thoroughly after handling any meat products and before handling anything else.
Do you still rinse first?